Showing posts with label Things to do on Okinawa. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Things to do on Okinawa. Show all posts

September 25, 2012

The Haunted Hotel on Okinawa

 The Haunted Hotel - Full of Mystery

The Haunted Hotel on Okinawa is an incredible structure filled with mystery, many stories, and even more questions.

It is located on a hill right next to Nakagusuku Castle. The pictures in this post were all taken while touring Nakagusuku Castle.

Note: Before I go any further, visiting the Haunted Hotel is probably illegal (there are lots of signs), and certainly dangerous.

Thus, I do not suggest anyone actually go to it, and I may or may not have ever been there, and I have certainly never climbed to the 5th floor and thrown a toilet off of it.

Now that that's cleared up...

Many Questions, Few Answers Surround the Haunted Hotel on Okinawa

The Haunted Hotel is one of those places where you can't help but wonder what it was really supposed to be, and what it would have been like if it were completed.

It is a huge structure that sprawls on top of, and around a hill in Nakagusuku village. The construction does not seem to have been very organized; it seems to have been built adding a section at a time, with no master blueprint to guide the builders.

The Haunted Hotel does not seem like a normal hotel.

There is no viable parking anywhere near the Haunted Hotel. Where would the guests have parked?

There is no easy way to get to the Haunted Hotel. Perhaps over time the original road that led to the hotel has been closed or removed, but even the road that runs through the middle of the structure is small, and unlikely to be used as a real road.

There are no main hallways or straight paths. In most hotels, the layout is very simple to keep guests from getting confused or lost. But at the Haunted Hotel, the walkways are anything but straight. They circle around, go up, go down, take sharp corners, and even end in a dead end.

Some hallways are even stranger in that they get too small for an average person to walk through. One has to bend over to continue walking through. And these hallways connect to major portions of the hotel, so why would they make it so only people under 4' 10" could easily walk through?

And let's not even get into the odd shaped guest rooms, and stairs to nowhere.

The Story Behind the Haunted Hotel

It is hard to tell for sure what the real story behind the Haunted Hotel is, but based on many different peoples' responses, including several Japanese native to that area, it goes something like this:

Sometime in the 1970's a Japanese Business man from Naha (or somewhere other than Nakagusuku) decided to buy the land on the mountain next to Nakagusuku Castle, and build a hotel there.

He planned for an impressive hotel, and it was going to be called The Royal Hotel.

Plans seemed to be falling in place, he had a great location with a beautiful view of the ocean (some say it is the best view on Okinawa) and plenty of money to get the project underway.

Unfortunately, the locals in that area strongly warned the businessman to stop his plans because the ground was sacred and filled with spirits. .

The proximity to Nakagusuku castle and a sacred Buddhist cave and shrine as well as many old tombs on the hill should have been enough to convince the man to build his hotel elsewhere, but he did not.

The Nakagusuku Castle dates back hundreds of years, to around the 14th century AD. Who knows what could have occurred in all that time on the hill next to the castle? Perhaps it was the burial ground for the castle.

As construction got underway, strange and scary things began to occur. Workers began dying in odd construction accidents.

Some workers quit, others stayed on, but construction slowed after these mysterious deaths.

It is hard to know the exact sequence of events, but at some point the businessman's son died and the father went insane.Perhaps possessed by spirits.

I believe construction continued for a little while after the businessman went insane, which would explain the haphazard design and confusing layout.

Eventually all the workers who had stayed around decided to quite before they too were killed, and construction was stopped.

The businessman had used millions on the hotel, and all that was left was a half completed gigantic sprawling structure.

Some say the businessman lived at the hotel for several years and even died there.

It is a strange and eerie story with plenty of room for myths and legends to get mixed into the facts.

But the hotel that is left behind from the story says a lot as far as confirming that it has a mysterious and unsettling history.

Experiences at the Haunted Hotel

Many people have visited the Haunted Hotel over the years and one could probably write a book about the various experiences. Some people claim to have seen ghosts in the form of the businessman, workers or even the child while others suggest seeing ghosts from hundreds of years ago.

Many pictures have been taken at the Haunted Hotel that contain ominous orbs in the photos which indicate some sort of energy at that location.

Some visitors have said they heard very unnerving sounds that followed them through the hotel as they explored it, sounds that were unlike anything they had heard before.

Others noticed flashlights and other electronic devices failing when entering certain rooms.

One thing is sure, if anyone is looking for an adventure, the Haunted Hotel has enough mystery to last many adventures.

Other Extremely Odd Facts About the Haunted Hotel

A Favela in Brazil looks similar to the Haunted Hotel By Natecull
  • There are piles of unused construction materials that have simply been left behind.
  • There is a water park that was going to be part of the hotel on one side of the hill.
  • There is a zoo with very eerie cages and bars that have been bent and broken.
  • One could spend en entire day walking around and through the hotel and still not see everything.
  • The walkways, steps and hallways tend to be uneven, as if built by inexperienced builders or at the direction of someone who could have been insane.
  • The sprawling construction and haphazard placement of connected buildings and rooms looks more like a Favela in Brazil than a planned structure.

September 15, 2012

Shopping at Jusco on Okinawa

One of the largest shopping stores on Okinawa is called Jusco. 

The stores are scattered throughout Okinawa in most of the larger cities. These shopping locations have the variety of a store like Walmart, but the atmosphere of a department store.

The Large Pink Sign is Hard to Miss!
Jusco stores are often located near or attached to malls which really connects it's department store feel.

What makes shopping at a Jusco store fun and interesting is the variety of Japanese style clothes and products. One can find many fun engrish t-shirts (poorly translated English words) or even a light summer Ukata (a traditional clothing style).

Jusco is often a fun place to go during typhoons and many Japanese do this. I have had first hand experience going to a Jusco while a typhoon was raging outside, and finding the store not only open, but very busy.

Shopping at Jusco is an experience that one doesn't quickly forget because of the differences between American shopping stores and Japanese. These differences tend to be subtle, but are much more noticeable after returning to an American shopping store.

One difference I'll mention is the height of the shelves. 

Most Japanese are shorter than the average American, so the shelves of items in a Japanese store are around 6 feet or a little less.

For me, at 6'2", I can easily see over all the shelves making it convenient to spot friends or family who might have gotten lost wondering the store.

The Ferris Wheel next to Mihama Jusco

Finding a Jusco Shopping Center

There are at least 5 Jusco shopping stores scattered throughout Okinawa. One of the more popular locations is just outside Kadena Gate 1 in the Mihama American Village shopping area.

This location is just a few hundred feet from the beach, and has tons of other shops and activities within easy walking distance. One of the most iconic structures on Okinawa is just across the street from the Mihama Jusco - the Ferris wheel. . (See Picture -->)

And just behind this Jusco is another important structure - the tallest building on Okinawa at 25 stories.

Jusco - A Snapshot of Japanese Culture

Jusco offers an afternoon of entertainment and many souvenirs or interesting items can be found while browsing. The often attached malls give even more things to do ranging from 100 yen stores to unique Japanese Arcade rooms. (You've got to try the sushi slicing game)

So don't be shy when visiting Okinawa, take a trip to your nearest Jusco and enjoy a unique cultural and shopping experience.

August 25, 2012

Shopping on Okinawa - Gate 2 Street

Guide to Shopping Gate 2 Street in Okinawa

Gate 2 Street is a popular shopping destination for Americans looking to spend a day viewing the many different shops available within walking distance of Kadena Gate 2. It provides more tan enough to keep an avid shopper busy for the day browsing and exploring the shops and side streets that contain a myriad of different shops.

An Example of the Eye Catching Shops on Gate 2 Street

Types of Shops

There are almost as many different types of shops as there are shops on gate 2 street. There are a number of clothing shops with some selling America style clothing, sometimes with a Japanese twist, and other shops selling more traditional Japanese attire for anyone interested in a Kimono.

The Music Center with Baskin Robbins
There are also several shops selling more fashionable clothing including dresses and suits. You can even get a suit tailor made, but it won't be as inexpensive as Korea.

Besides clothing, several shops sell souvenir type items including Japanese furniture, pottery, accessories, and even samurai swords.

Be sure to check out some of the side streets because there is an entire covered market located a block or so north of gate 2 street. In this market you can find plenty of interesting vegetables and foods. There are also a variety of interesting restaurants tucked in  and around gate 2 street worth visiting.

If you walk to the end of gate 2 street, where it connects with 330 in a large intersection, there is a music center on the right that will often have live shows on weekend nights. Also located in this music center are several Japanese fastfood restaurants and even a Baskin Robbins in case anyone needs a break from shipping.

During the day, gate 2 street is a popular shopping area, but during the night it becomes a little shady as there are a number of bars located on this street catering to desperate America Military members and sketchy Japanese. So enjoy the shopping, but consider calling it a day when the sun goes down.

Location of Gate 2 Street

Park Avenue - Another Shopping street just blocks away from Gate 2
As one would expect, the shops are located on gate 2 street as you continue straight out The Kadena Air Force Base Gate 2. There are also many more shops located on the side streets and alleys primarily on the left side of the street as you face away from the military base.

I would encourage you to explore down the side streets which contain many more shops than on gate 2 street. Don't worry about getting lost, because there are plenty of helpful Japanese who will easily direct you in the right direction if you ask.

Many Japanese speak some English, but if you want to try out some Japanese, use this phrase, 'Kadena Kichi wa doko?' Which means, 'where is Kadena Base?' That should get the idea across.

Where to Park

Parking is limited and can be pricey, so avoid this by parking on base in the USO parking lot. There are plenty of extra spaces, and you can even stop in at the USO for a drink or snack at Chili's. It is a short walk out Kadena Gate 2 to get to the shops and restaurants.

View more Things to Do in Okinawa.

August 16, 2012

Things to do on Okinawa - Spearfishing

Spearfishing in Okinawa

For those with time on their hands and a desire for adventure and exploration, I suggest looking into spearfishing. Okinawa is a great place to start spearfishing because the water is clear, there are lots of fish, and you can find the equipment easily.

The waters around Okinawa and the surrounding islands offer incredible viability and variety of sea life. This makes it fantastic for snorkeling, scuba diving, and spearfishing. On clear days, viability can easily reach 100 feet. This makes it possible scan deep sections of the ocean from the surface before diving down to spear a fish. The many varieties of brightly colored tropical fish make it exciting and fun to both hunt the fish, and just enjoy watching them. There are many fish that offer a delicious meal once caught.

Equipment for snorkeling and spearfishing is easy to get on Okinawa. There are dive shops and stores on the military bases that have everything one would need to go snorkeling and in most Japanese fishing stores they have inexpensive spears for around $10.

The spears most people use are called Hawaiian sling or Pole spears. I recently wrote an article on Spearfishing tips using a pole spear or Hawaiian sling, so check it out for some helpful tips.

It is important to keep in mind a few things before you go out spearfishing. Spearfishing may not be allows for active duty military personnel in certain branches of the military. I had friends in most branches, and some could go spearfishing, while others could not, so check to be sure you are allowed to go if you are in the military.

Also, don't go spearfishing at popular snorkeling areas. This is both a safety issue and a matter courtesy. How would you like it if you were looking at fish and someone came along scaring them off and spearing them? Yeah, so just avoid the popular spots.

But don't worry, there are PLENTY of quite beaches and coral reefs scattered all over Okinawa. Consider going to the Northern parts of Okinawa. Just take a scouting trip driving around up there and I guarantee you'll find plenty of deserted beaches.

So what are you waiting for? Take your spearfishing adventure today! Check out the link I mentioned if you're looking for any spearfishing tips.